GM Thought of the Week – Footballs coming home… for the BBC & ITV

alex world cup totw

GM Thought of the Week – Footballs coming home… for the BBC & ITV

Following the end of the FIFA World Cup 2018 group stage games, the last two weeks have produced some of the highest viewing figures – both TV and online – in the last 10 years for the BBC.


Millions across the nation have tuned in to see England’s last-minute win against Tunisia and their six-goal demolition of Panama, Ronaldo’s remarkable hat-trick against Spain, and of course Germany’s recent demise.


The most striking figures remain for England’s first game against Tunisia in which a huge peak audience of 18.3million were watching as England scored a last minute goal to take the lead. These figures surpass that of the BBC’s coverage of the recent Royal Wedding (a peak audience of 13.6 million was reported) – BARB, 2018.


Every match the BBC broadcast is also streamed online via the BBC Sport website and BBC iPlayer. Viewing figures on these platforms have reported to have broken all previous records with the England’s first group match against Tunisia setting a new record with a reported 3.22 million requests, while its second match against Panama attracted 3.13 million.


Matthew Postgate, Chief Technology & Product Officer, says: “Alongside the BBC’s world-class TV and Radio coverage, record numbers of fans are using our digital services to follow the World Cup. Millions are watching the big matches on their connected TV at home, while millions more are sneaking a peak on their work laptop or cramming in some games on their commute. People love the BBC’s World Cup coverage – and we’re making sure they can tune in whenever and wherever they want.”


While these figures will come as a great result to the BBC, the organization is not the only winner. The U.K.’s public broadcaster shares the rights to the tournament with commercial station ITV, with each showing half of matches exclusively live (both will show the final on 15th July).


The first game to be broadcast on ITV1 was the most recent game against Belgium in which a staggering peak audience of 18.5 million tuned in. To say this games viewing figures, as well as England’s strong performance in the World Cup to date will come as good news to ITV would be an understatement. England’s performance will be seen as a godsend to attract audiences and demographics it often doesn’t acquire – namely young men.


Men aged 18 to 34 normally account for around 5% of ITV’s overall audience (BARB, 2018), but they of course form a much larger proportion of football viewers, especially during the World Cup. This audience traditionally watch less TV than most, so they’re disproportionately valuable to certain advertiser categories. So let the games continue!



  1. BARB, 2018


Alex Smith, Director of Business Development 


Blog post by: